Tuesday, May 08, 2018 by Jessica Dolores
Pregnancy is a great time to be alive: A woman is nurturing life in her womb, and the unborn baby’s well-being totally depends on her.
However, the U.K.’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) found that more than 90 percent of the women of childbearing age lack folate, a requirement for preventing birth defects and having healthy babies.
Because of this deficiency, a woman runs the risk of giving birth to a baby with a neural tube defect (NTD), that is, a structure that develops into the baby’s brain, spinal cord, and surrounding tissues. A newborn with NTD may have spina bifida and anencephaly, an underdeveloped spinal cord and the absence of a major part of the brain, skull, and scalp, respectively.
In addition, sixteen percent of women of childbearing age had a blood folate level below the 305 nanomoles per liter threshold, putting them at greater risk for anemia.
The results have alarmed Food Standards Agency (FSA) so much it recommended that flour products in the U.K. be fortified with folic acid (a form of folate used in fortification and dietary supplements). In 2017, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) stressed the need for folic acid supplementation when it published a review of the said B vitamin.
The FSA is convinced that including folic acid in bread or flour will raise the level of this important vitamin in women who might get pregnant and suffer from folic acid deficiency. Supplementation could also be the best way to help women from low-income groups get the folic acid they need.
Around 700 to 900 pregnancies in the U.K. are affected yearly by NTD, while in Europe, this figure becomes 5,000 pregnancies a year. Statistics also show that the number of fortified foods has gone down, while neural tube defects are rising.
Two hundred fifty food manufacturers in Switzerland have taken the initiative by fortifying their products with folic acid. But Finland, France, and Sweden think food supplementation is unnecessary with a diet rich in nutrients.
Know more about what to eat during pregnancy by heading to WomensHealth.news today.